The Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programme in Viet Nam is at the leading edge of applied clinical research. The research at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (WT-OUCRU) aims to extend our understanding of tropical diseases and the most effective intervention strategies, to provide the evidence on which policy can be made and offer a vision for collaborative international cooperation with a centre of gravity based firmly where the problems are most acute. Over the next decade we expect that the massive investment in genomics will start to deliver products (diagnostics, vaccines, drugs, public health interventions) that will need to be critically assessed in the countries where their potential impacts will be the greatest. In order to realize the full potential of this golden scientific age we need to engage with the whole community beyond the narrow confines of the health care and science sectors. Along with the development of sciences and technologies in the region, there is an urgent need for a better understanding and communication of science and health issues in the social, cultural and historical context of the Vietnamese people.
In this light, the Public Engagement team was established as a part of Training and Public Engagement Department of OUCRU. The Public Engagement activities are directly supported by the Wellcome Trust. Our aim is to engage with the media and the local community by developing initiatives which will bring science to the forefront of people’s minds in an engaging and entertaining way, such as through dynamic theatre productions, lively debate and informed writing. Sharing knowledge with these groups will help to develop an understanding of the value and need for scientific research and enable people to observe the world in a different light. The target audiences will be different for each initiative:
The media engagement will be aimed at journalists, and through them the general public. Through workshops we hope to improve science writing by journalists, and thereby raising the standard to science communication in the public arena. Workshops will be open to journalists from a variety of Vietnamese newspapers and magazines, but a number of the publications are targeted specifically at a youth audiences.
The Science Cafés will target young adults and University students and teachers.
The Scientific Theatre productions will be targeting children between the ages of 10 and 16, and their parents and teachers.
The WT-OUCRU Public Engagement team
Dr. Mary Chambers – Director of training
Dr. Chau T. Tran – Liaisons officer
Mr. Son Phan – Scientific journalist
Mr. Duy Truong – Graphic designer and web manager
Ms. Ann Rajkowski – Science theatre consultant